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Next year's winners?
Could these be next year’s winners?
We didn’t know what to call this lot, ‘ones to watch’, ‘special mentions’, ‘looks great but need more reviews’, ‘so close!’. The judges wanted to draw people’s attention to these six guides and services for a variety of reasons. A couple of the guides are clearly very experienced and fit in the expert guide category, but need more reviews. Jose Pillco Flores had many reviews, but each lacked sufficient detail. One of the entries stimulated an interesting debate – Shack Up Inn. While it is a ‘local’ experience, it is based in Clarksdale in the United States and so difficult to compare with some of the other entrants, plus it needed more reviews. We have tended to think it is appropriate to list locals in far flung places in addition to ones in our backyards, but perhaps they need to go in separate categories?
Take a look for yourself, and let us know what you think. If you decide to use one of these guides or services and add a review, you could turn them into a winner of 2012!
Walter Soplin – Iquitos, Peru. Community tours within the Peruvian rainforest with an emphasis on the local community.
‘I have been on 3 excursions, each a week long, with Walter and every trip was an amazing adventure. We travelled throughout the Iquitos Amazon region by small motor boat and dugout canoe. We slept in the huts of villagers and in the jungle in hammocks with mosquito nets. We fished and ate fish we caught from the rivers and lakes. We saw amazing varieties of wildlife, learned about making medicine from jungle plants and participated in shaman ceremonies at night. Each trip was the experience of a lifetime.’ Gene Linfante
Sushil Tamang – Pelling, India. Sushil is President of the Darap Eco-Tourism Committee Project and will help you find somewhere to stay here, either in his own small resort or elsewhere in the village.
‘Without doubt, what made it special was getting to spend time with the local people in and around Darap. Sushil arranged for Purna, a young local student, to take us on a village and jungle trek. We met his family, who live high in the valley, in a 200 year old mud/bamboo hut. We drank butter and salt tea, rakshi -- a kind of schnapps made from rhododendrons or maize -- and milk straight from the cow. It was a great privilege to be welcomed into the homes of these simple, and welcoming people.’ Liz Cleere
Jose Pillco Flores – Cusco, Peru. Tours to Huchuy Qosqo (2 days) from Cusco and Lares from Ollantaytambo/Cusco (2-3 days). And to Choquekirau (4-5 days). Salkantay, mountain bike Valley tours (Huasao, Tipon), horseriding, Inka jungle.
‘Jose took me on a fabulous five hour horseback riding tour to Pumamarca way up the valley from Ollantaytambo. The horses wee terrific - paso peruvian with great temperaments and smooth brisk gaits, and the exploration was breathtaking. We walked the last bit - after the horses gave up climbing - and Jose gave me a great understanding of the ruin and the Incan activities around it. A memorable day!’ Rosemary Wilson
Duong – Hanoi, Vietnam. Duong is a tour guide based in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. His friendly smile is the first thing you see when you step into the noise and bustle of the airport arrivals area. That may explain why his nickname is Sunny.
‘Duong knows where to go to see great panoramas of the rice fields and karsts, as well as the local restaurants where you can taste why pho has become the favourite dish of the Vietnamese around the world.’ Tom Cameron
Hotels and Porters
Dil Sunar Gorkha – Kathmandu, Nepal. Porter and guide.
‘Dil is a very fine person who describes himself as a Guide/Porter. His English is broken at best but he more than makes up for it with his enthusiasm to please. Dil will carry up to 10 kg of your gear on your trek through the mountains of Nepal. He will find you the best guest houses each day and will serve you fresh fruit each evening, even at altitude. Dil is ideal for the trekker on a very tight budget who wishes the experience and safety of a local, while trekking through the mountains.’ Josef Seywerd
Shack Up Inn – Clarksdale, United States. Accommodation.
‘You can take your pick to stay in any of the 23 authentic Mississippi shacks, reclaimed from the surrounding area, on the outskirts of Clarksdale, Home of the Delta Blues. You have your own kitchen, bathroom and veranda (rocking chair optional). The rough 'n' ready homeliness of the place is warmed further by the charming and generous staff, who offer the finest advice and keep an eye on the local events to suit your stay best.’ Amy Butterworth